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Asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Crime Victim, and Other Immigration Relief 2021


Speaker(s): Cheryl R. David, Cyrus D. Mehta, David A. Isaacson, Deborah Lee, Dree Collopy, Michelle Martinez, Rebecca Scholtz
Recorded on: Feb. 5, 2021
PLI Program #: 305853

Cheryl R. David has been practicing immigration law since 1995.  She handles all aspects of immigration law with an emphasis on removal and family-based cases.  Prior to opening her own practice she was an associate for five years at Bretz & Coven, LLP where her main area of concentration was deportation defense of individuals with criminal convictions.  She is a frequent lecturer on issues related to removal and complicated family based cases.  She currently is on the Board of Directors of Asista,  She is currently the Chair for AILA of the Removal Defense Steering Committee and she serves on the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service Headquarters committee for AILA.  Previously she served on Department of State national committee of AILA from 2018-2020.  Some of her additional past positions and membership include:  Co-Chair, NY-AILA  ICE committee; Member, AILA ICE National Committee, 2016-18; Director, American Immigration Lawyers Association Board of Governors, 2007-2013; Member, Board of Directors of the City Bar Fund of New York – 2007-2013; Chair, National Liaison Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Executive Office for Immigration Review, 2010-2012; Chair, National Liaison Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), 2007-2010, Chair, AILA NY ICE - Detention & Removal Committee, 2007-2009; Chair and Founder, NY AILA Chapter of the juvenile pro-bono committee with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, 2007-2009; Member, Immigration & Nationality Committee of the City Bar, 2008-2011 Co-Chair, NY AILA Chapter Pro Bono Committee -2007-2009. 


Cyrus D. Mehta, a graduate of Cambridge University and Columbia Law School, is the Managing Partner of Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC in New York City. Mr. Mehta is a member of the American Immigration Lawyer’s  (AILA) Administrative Litigation Task Force; AILA’s FOIA Strategy Committee; former chair and member of AILA’s Ethics Committee; special counsel on immigration matters to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division, First Department, New York; board member of Volunteers for Legal Services and board member of The New York Immigration Coalition.  Mr. Mehta is the former chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council and former chair of the Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law of the New York City Bar Association. He is a frequent speaker and writer on various immigration-related issues, including on ethics, and is also an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, where he teaches a course entitled Immigration and Work.  Mr. Mehta received the AILA 2018 Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award for advancing the practice of immigration law and the AILA 2011 Michael Maggio Memorial Award for his outstanding efforts in providing pro bono representation in the immigration field. He has also received three AILA Presidential Commendations in 2010, 2016 and 2020.  Mr. Mehta is ranked highly by Who’s Who Legal – Corporate Immigration Law 2020 and also by Chambers USA and Chambers Global 2020 in immigration law, among other rankings. 


Deborah Lee is the Deputy Attorney-in-Charge within the Immigration Law Unit of the Legal Aid Society, where she helps manage the legal representation of a wide-range of immigrants before U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.  Prior to joining The Legal Aid Society, Deborah Lee was a Senior Staff Attorney with Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project, where she represented foreign-born victims of domestic violence, trafficking and gender violence.  Her previous experience includes serving as Supervising Attorney for the Children’s Legal Project at Americans for Immigrant Justice (previously known as Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center) and a Jesuit Refugee Service Fellow with Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).  Ms. Lee frequently trains and writes on immigration legal remedies for vulnerable populations.  She has published articles in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Immigration & Nationality Handbook, as well as a practice advisory with AILA on immigrant youth issues.  Ms. Lee is a graduate of Swarthmore College, Harvard Divinity School, and Georgetown University Law Center. 


Dree K. Collopy is a partner of Benach Collopy LLP in Washington, DC. A recognized asylum expert, Dree serves as chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Asylum and Refugee Committee and is the author of AILA's Asylum Primer the “go to” manual for U.S. asylum law, policy, and practice (new edition available at https://agora.aila.org/product/detail/3952). She serves on working groups developing nation-wide policy advocacy and litigation strategies on behalf of refugees and asylum-seekers, has been active in the fight to end family detention, mentors pro bono attorneys, and frequently lectures and publishes on cutting-edge asylum and other immigration issues. Dree has been recognized for her contributions to the field of immigration law and for her work in advancing and defending the cause of refugees, receiving the AILA President’s Commendation Award in both 2013 and 2016 and the Joseph Minsky Award in 2014. She earned her J.D. and Certificate in Law and Public Policy from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and her B.A. from Grinnell College.


Michelle Martinez was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Michelle is currently a supervising staff attorney at Central American Legal Assistance (CALA) in Williamsburg, New York, where she represents asylum-seekers in removal proceedings. Michelle first joined CALA as an Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) Fellow in 2017. Her passion for advocating for immigrants and improving access to quality representation grew out of her experiences assisting victims of immigration service scams through the New York Attorney General’s Office. During law school, Michelle worked as a student attorney with BU Law’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. Following her graduation in May 2014, she completed a year-long fellowship with the Boston University Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, providing representation to individuals in removal proceedings. Between 2015-2017, she worked as an Attorney Advisor for the New York Immigration Court through the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General’s Honors Program.  Michelle graduated magna cum laude from Boston College with a B.A. in Political Science with minors in French and International Studies.  She graduated cum laude from Boston University School of Law.  She is admitted to practice in New York and Massachusetts.


Rebecca Scholtz is a Senior Attorney with CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations Project, where she provides training, written resources, and technical assistance to removal defense practitioners with a focus on immigrant children and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status issues. Prior to joining CLINIC, Rebecca worked with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Immigration Law Project, first as a Liman Fellow and then as a staff attorney. Her work at MMLA focused on representation of unaccompanied children and SIJS, and she also provided training, technical assistance, pro bono program development, and advocacy on children’s immigration issues.

Rebecca received her J.D. from Yale Law School and was a judicial clerk for the Honorable Diana Murphy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She is a Faculty Fellow at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Prior to law school, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica.


David A. Isaacson, a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, is a Partner at Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC in New York City.  He is admitted in New York, New Jersey, and Ontario.  David is a former co-chair of the Federal Practice Committee and the Customs and Border Protection Committee of the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and is a frequent speaker at AILA conferences, including the AILA Annual Conferences of 2012-2015 and 2017-2019.  David’s practice includes a variety of family-based and employment-based applications for both nonimmigrant visas and permanent residence, as well as waivers, naturalization and citizenship matters, asylum cases, other removal proceedings such as those stemming from criminal convictions or denied applications for adjustment of status, and federal litigation.